March Madness 2013 Predictions: Picking Saturday's Elite 8 Against the Spread
The 2012-13 college basketball season has been amazingly unpredictable, but as the Big Dance rolls around, the remaining teams are far more trustworthy.
That means betting on the games isn't nearly as suicidal for your money as it used to be.
So, now that the Elite Eight is set and we have a good idea of how each team is going to perform, let's take a look at how to bet against the spread on Saturday's regional finals.
I won't be providing any refunds when I'm inevitably wrong, by the way.
Note: Odds come via Vegas Insider
Syracuse (-3) over Marquette
Coming into the Sweet 16, Indiana was ranked first in America in points per possession and first in Ken Pomeroy's tempo-free offensive rankings. Against Syracuse, the Hoosiers looked like a bunch of fourth-graders trying to score on five Inspector Gadgets with go-go gadget arms.
Syracuse's 2-3 zone completely frustrated Indiana to 0.765 PPP, easily its worst mark of the season. Cody Zeller couldn't do anything on the inside, and the Hoosiers' slew of shooters couldn't find room to operate on the perimeter.
Bonus bet. How many total points will be scored in this potential low-scoring battle?
It was easily the most impressive, overwhelming defensive performance of the tournament.
Marquette will match 'Cuse's suffocating zone with strong, physical man-to-man defense, and this game will undoubtedly turn into a defensive battle with both teams struggling to put the peach in the basket.
Nevertheless, if Syracuse continues to play such an absolutely debilitating zone, and there's no reason to believe it won't, I don't trust the Golden Eagles' shooters to keep things close, even in a relatively low-scoring game.
Wichita State over Ohio State (-6.5)
I don't want to pick against either of these teams.
On the one hand, Wichita State has shown the ability to win in several different ways. The Shockers shut down both Pittsburgh and La Salle with physicality and defensive ferocity, and against Gonzaga, they summoned the ghost of Antoine Tyler and literally could not miss a shot down the stretch.
On the other, Ohio State is suddenly one of the most balanced teams in America.
Led by Aaron Craft, the Buckeyes continue to boast one of the most scrappy, effective defenses in the country, but they have desperately needed a consistent second scorer behind Deshaun Thomas all season long.
Enter LaQuinton Ross.
The matchup nightmare is Ohio State's most talented player, but he has struggled to put his gaudy natural tools to use. In the last two games, however, Ross is suddenly averaging 17 points on 11-of-18 (six-of-11 from deep) shooting, and he hit the clutch game-winner against Arizona.
While Ross' red-hot play makes OSU the obvious favorite, Wichita State has been too impressive to assume this will be a blowout.
Take the Buckeyes straight up, but go with the Shockers against the spread.
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